New Year's Activities
Are you wondering how you could celebrate the beginning of the new year with your students? That's a great opportunity to help your English learners to learn more about New Year’s festivities and traditions in in the U.K. and other English-speaking countries all over the world!
So, how will your class say goodbye to the past year and hello to the new one?
Student New Year's Resolutions
Brits have already started making plans and resolutions for the new year. Well, the new year is a great opportunity to make a change for the better and focus on new beginnings and goals. And it is believed that it all started with the ancient Babylonians (yes, the first New Year's Resolutions started in the ancient Babylonian Empire)!
Have your students ever made any resolutions? Let's find out what they'll say! Give your English learners a few minutes to brainstorm and then ask them to talk about their resolutions. Explain that they should start with achievable goals, e.g. 'This year, I will read more books'. What is one thing they want to become better at? What about one bad habit they'd like to break?
To add an element of fun, you can ask your students to jot down their resolutions on slips of paper. Collect the slips, read their resolutions aloud and have your students guess who wrote each one! So, what New Year resolutions will your students make?
tip 💡 This activity is a great way to help your young students to revise or learn how to talk about their plans for the future. Have they understood the difference between 'will' and 'be going to'? Do they know that in some cases they should use the present simple or continuous?
tip 💡 For older students, New Year's resolutions can be a matter for debate (and a great opportunity to sharpen their speaking skills!):
- Are New Year's resolutions worth making?
- Can you think of any reasons why we should stop making New Year's resolutions?
- Why are our resolutions usually rooted only in the latest health and self-improvement fads?
- What steps can we take to make sure we'll stick to our new goals?
Highlights of the Past Year
Have you ever thought that the beginning of a new year can be not only an opportunity to focus on new goals, but also a great reason to reflect on the past year? Users of social media are familiar with the 'Year in Review' concept that provides them with an overview of some of the key moments of the past year!
What are your students' favourite moments and memories from the past year? Use the following questions to keep the conversation going:
- How would you describe this year in 3 words?
- What new skills did you learn?
- What was the best decision you made?
- What would you do differently if you could change the past?
- If you could write yourself a letter at the beginning of this year, what would you say?
tip 💡 This activity is an opportunity to help your students to learn or revise how to use narrative tenses to talk about the past. You could also focus on comparative and superlative adjectives. For example, your students could talk about the happiest / best / worst / most important days of this year.
Our Class Calendar
Show your students a calendar template and encourage them to cooperate in order to create a unique, attention-grabbing class calendar for the new year. You could use it to jot down exam dates, special days and students' birthdays.
Let your English learners get messy and crafty (all children and teenagers enjoy hands-on learning and creative activities) or take advantage of technology and encourage them to choose and use a free online template; no design skills are needed!
tip 💡 Pick a spot in your classroom to hang your calendar up and create a positive learning place. A welcoming nook with a splash of colour, books, educational board games and a unique calendar can make a big difference! You can also add a large bulletin board, where your students’ projects on English culture will be pinned.
New Year in English-speaking Countries
How do people around the world celebrate the beginning of a new year? Have your students do some research and focus on teamwork to find out!
Motivate and help your students with the following questions:
- What is Hogmanay?
- Where does a dark-haired stranger who crosses your threshold at midnight bring good luck?
- What do you know about the impressive fireworks display that takes place at the iconic Sky Tower in New Zealand?
- Why is Times Square the centre of the countdown to midnight in New York (U.S.A.)?
- What is the annual New Year's Eve watermelon drop in Indiana (U.S.A.)?
tip 💡 This is a great way to help your students to work on the four Cs: Communication, Collaboration, Creativity & Critical thinking. At the end, you could ask them to reflect on their work. For example, you could ask some questions such as 'How effective was your contribution to the group work?'.
What traditional ways of welcoming the New Year do you enjoy?